If you’ve been thinking about buying a boat, we couldn’t agree more that it’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make! Nothing beats having the freedom to explore the deep sea or leisurely cruise in the summertime. Owning a boat can be a big decision though, and naturally, boats require cash to be kept on hand for a range of expenses. After reading this article you’ll be prepared with all of the knowledge needed to start looking seriously at making your purchase.

In order to be prepared, you’ll need to budget for:

  • Upfront and operating expenses
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Mooring, storage, or both
  • Insurance
  • Equipment and accessories


Upfront and operating expenses:

Buying a boat upfront is obviously the biggest cost. This is where you need to work out what kind of boat you want to buy, what you see yourself enjoying on the water and how much boat you want. Once you’ve worked out the perfect boat for you, the next most obvious expense of owning a boat is operating it, and thus, the cost of fuel. How much you use your boat and how often you run the motor is going to determine the fuel costs. It is impossible for us to say what to budget exactly for operating your boat, since the range can be so great.

Maintenance and repairs:

A lot of boaters expect to budget around 10% of the boats value for maintenance and repair costs. What is important to note though is that maintenance and repairs are different, since maintenance costs are regular and ongoing (such as bottom paint, engine tune-ups, or wax jobs) while repairs can come up at unexpected moments. But these two costs also go hand in hand. Slacking on maintenance will require more repairs in the long run, and repairing things quickly and completely can reduce maintenance cost. Check out our article on the best practices for maintaining your boat.


There are many options for places to keep your boat, depending on the size. If you plan to keep your boat moored at a marina in the US, you’ll be looking at paying about $20 – $45 per night, regardless of length. Annual mooring rates seem to average at about $80 – $250 per year, regardless of length.

If you plan to keep it at home, then your costs are going to be nothing, however you will need to invest in a trailer to transport your boat. A single-axle trailer for a smaller boat can cost anywhere from $700-$3000, then of course you’ll need a vehicle that can handle towing. Often, you can buy your boat with a trailer making it a package deal.

If you choose to keep the boat at a marina, you will incur monthly costs for those months of storage; fees will vary depending on inside or outside storage, how often you use the boat, and whether or not the marina includes cleaning and maintenance charges.


The general rule of thumb when it comes to calculating average boat insurance prices is that you’ll pay about 1.5% of the value of your boat in annual rates. To insure a boat worth around $20,000, it would cost you only about $300 per year to have it fully insured.

Equipment and accessories:

Safety gear (such as life jackets, paddles, horn, signal flares, etc.) should always be considered during any boat purchase. For additional accessories, no need to buy everything you can think of all at once; a good plan is to “treat your boat” every spring and fall to a new accessory or upgrade with accessories like stereos, lighting, water sports towing equipment and more. Spend wisely and you’ll enjoy your boat and all the summer fun it brings.

Keep these costs in mind and before you know it, your dream of owning your very own boat will become a reality.

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